McAteer in demand for SBC cash

Councillor Watson McAteer
Councillor Watson McAteer

Councillor Watson McAteer is demanding the council finds cash to drive forward the regeneration of Hawick High Street.

Following the announcement that Galashiels is set to benefit from a council-funded co-ordination officer, Councillor McAteer is asking for parity to boost Hawick’s ailing High Street.

The two-year Galashiels post is advertised on the council’s website with a £31,000 to £34,000 salary for a 35-hour week.

The job description states: “Galashiels and the Scottish Borders will see a transformational change following the reintroduction of the Borders Railway in September 2015.

“Scottish Borders Council is seeking to recruit an experienced and motivated professional to support regeneration activity in Galashiels town centre.

“The postholder, working with the local business community, will coordinate and deliver business development, inward investment and marketing initiatives. This is a unique opportunity to coordinate a two-year programme to enhance the vitality of the town centre.”

Speaking this week, Councillor McAteer, who has taken a keen interest in the continuing High Street regeneration issue since his election in May, said: “This week I met with Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker and the head of economic development Bryan McGrath and highlighted my concern that a coordinator, similar to that currently advertised for the Galashiels town centre regeneration project, had not been identified for a similar initiative planned for Hawick.

“Both understood the concerns of Hawick councillors and promised to look at options and possibilities within an existing tight budget. I welcome that commitment and will be looking for a positive response to enable Hawick to start the much-needed journey towards reinvigorating our High Street.”

And Galashiels received a further shot-in-the-arm this week with the news that a new pressure group has been formed in a bid to capitalise on the forthcoming rail link

Energise Galashiels has welcomed the impending appointment by Scottish Borders Council of a town centre coordinator.

The group was formed recently by around a dozen friends with business interests in the town. Its members include Helen Calder of the Salmon Inn, Barbara McCann, owner of Salon Services, Raymond Kerr of award-winning telecommunications installers QubeGB and local live music promoter Bill Jeffrey.

Hawick Community Council set up a High Street sub-group more than a year ago in a bid to kick-start the regeneration of the town’s main street but, despite several meetings, there seems to have been little progress.

Speaking to the Hawick News this week, Marion Short, who, almost 12 months ago met the town’s national politicians on the High Street to highlight the problems being faced by hard-pressed traders, said: “I am concerned and disappointed, that once again, the correlation between the railway and what is going to Galashiels seems to be an issue. We need to be on an equal footing or we are going to be left behind.”

A council spokesperson said: “The Galashiels town centre co-ordinator is a pilot project. If it proves successful, and if additional funds can be secured, the council may consider this role for other towns in the region.”